Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a series of eye conditions that affect vision and can cause blindness if left untreated. It is most common in those who are over 40 and is associated with elevated pressure in the eye (intraocular). It is commonly associated with damage to the optic nerve that is caused by a high pressure in the eye. This is due to a build up of fluid in the eye as fluid takes too long to drain correctly, this is an example of open angle glaucoma. Another risk factor for glaucoma is high blood pressure which can affect and elevate ocular blood pressure as a side effect.

At first, glaucoma presents with no symptoms and vision appears to be normal. However, if left untreated it can lead to loss of peripheral vision (vision to the side), over time central vision can also decline leading to very limited vision and blindness.

There are two types of glaucoma:

  • Open angle glaucoma – The eye drainage system begins to falter and results in a build up of fluid and pressure in the eye.
  • Closed angle glaucoma – When the iris in the eye is close to the drainage area and blocks the draining angle. When the drain becomes completely blocked eye pressure rises rapidly and it is classified an emergency.

Vision loss cannot be recovered with glaucoma, so it is vital that it is caught early. Due to the lack of symptoms in the early stages, it is incredibly difficult to detect and necessitates regular visits to an ophthalmologist or optician.

Symptoms:

  • Open angle – Loss of peripheral vision, tunnel vision and patchy spots.
  • Close angle – Eye pain, nausea, vomiting, headaches, severe eye pain, blurry vision, rainbow coloured rings or halos around lights.

The cause of primary glaucoma is unknown. However, secondary glaucoma may be due to pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cancerous tumors, advanced cataract or inflammation.

There are a number of risk factors associated with glaucoma, which include:

  • Old Age
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetes
  • Ethnic Background – East Asians/African Americans/those of Hispanic descent are more likely to develop glaucoma.
  • Myopia (short-sightedness)
  • Eye surgeries and other eye conditions.

 

References:

http://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma/glaucoma-awareness-video-with-robert-fechtner-md.php

https://www.glaucomafoundation.org/about_glaucoma.htm

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9710.php

https://nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/basics/symptoms/con-20024042

http://www.medicinenet.com/glaucoma/article.htm

 

The Ethics Surrounding The Use of Animals In Clinical Trials

The use of animals in the trials of medicines, cosmetics and other equipment for use by humans has always been a controversial topic. In recent years, activism from groups such as PETA has brought this problem to the forefront of the public eye.

The main arguments against the use of trials on animals stem from the idea that if we are testing goods for use on humans we should subject the trials to humans rather than animals. Many also disapprove of the conditions animals are kept in, which include small boxes. A variety of trials also involves inducing animals with a particular disease and/or inhibiting their food and water intake to observe a response to additional stimuli. After successful campaigning, there are now stricter regulations on the environment an animal is kept in, which animals can be used. Many companies have to get clearance from the home office to trial on animals and as part of this clearance have to disclose the nature of their trial, how many animals they will use and the basic procedure which is then reviewed by a panel. These laws and regulations have proven to be successful in a number of first world countries, however, they are difficult to enforce in third world countries

Those who are pro the use of animal testing often speak of the supplementary benefits of trials on animals before trials on humans. One argument is a reduction in human casualties. If we test on animals before going to human trials any adverse reactions to the medication/trial conditions can be noted and it can be modified for human use. This is another area of controversy and many argue that animals have equal rights to humans and as they are unable to choose to take part in these trials, they should not be subjected to them. At present, a large percentage of trials are first trialed on animals before moving to the next phase. Many people believe that trialing is a necessary evil and is needed for the greater good of humanity. Some pro trial advocates are against trials for cosmetics as they are not a necessity but are pro using trials to test medications.

References:

http://animal-testing.procon.org/

https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-testing-101/

https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/why-we-do-it/what-animal-testing

 

Brain Imaging Breakthrough

In recent news, researchers at the Cardiff University Brain Imaging Centre have produced new scanning equipment to show the workings of the brain. One user has stated that the research was akin to using the Hubble telescope after years of using binoculars.

The scan shows the wiring of the human brain. White areas/matter make up the inner part of the brain and are made of dense fibres packed in a tight arrangement. Siemens engineers used the latest computer tools to create 3D images mapping the brain and the nerve impulses and signals of a patient. The scanner uses colour coding to highlight the direction of travel of the impulses and density of fibres to produce a more refined image and a new way of viewing brain mappings. This technology can be used to learn more about and possibly aid the treatment of dementia, MS and epilepsy along with numerous other neurological conditions.

References:

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/health-40487049/the-most-detailed-scan-of-the-wiring-of-the-human-brain

http://www.9news.com.au/world/2017/07/05/15/17/worlds-most-detailed-scan-of-the-human-brain-shows-how-information-travels

http://businessnewswales.com/cardiff-university-brain-research-imaging-centre-cubric-wins-major-science-buildings-award/